Cam Newton to Start, Sam Darnold Will Also Play in Week 16 Matchup vs. Bucs

Adam WellsDecember 22, 2021

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold throws an interception against the New England Patriots during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

The Carolina Panthers' revolving quarterback rotation will include Sam Darnold on Sunday. 

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule told reporters Wednesday that Cam Newton will be the team's starting quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that Darnold will feature at some point during the game.

Earlier Wednesday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Darnold "could have a role" in the NFC South matchup.

The Panthers placed Darnold on injured reserve Nov. 12 with a shoulder injury he suffered in a Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots. 

There was an expectation at the time that Darnold would return within four to six weeks. He was designated to return last week, with Fowler noting the 24-year-old could be cleared for contact "soon." 

As for Newton, Carolina signed him to a one-year deal on Nov. 11. The three-time Pro Bowler has started each of the past four games, but he's only completing 54.9 percent of his attempts and has four touchdowns and four interceptions. 

The Panthers have gone 0-4 in Newton's four starts. Rhule has also given extended playing time to P.J. Walker in a two-quarterback system with Newton. 

Walker started the first game after Darnold's injury. He completed 22 of 29 attempts for 167 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in a 34-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 14. 

Darnold was the Panthers starting quarterback for the first nine games of the season. The USC alum has thrown for 1,986 yards with seven touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 59.5 completion percentage in 2021.